An old Woody Allen joke resonates with financial modelers and forecasters: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans.” We all know that financials projections are based on assumptions that likely never come true. Yet, putting together the financial information for your startup might be one of the most important and eye opening experiences before the launch date. Sales projections for an existing business are derived based on past sales figures and reports as well as statistics regarding other known pertinent internal and external factors. Yet when projecting for a startup, all previous sales history is non-existent and therefore, there are some arbitrary fundamental assumptions that need to be made. Almost every experienced entrepreneur will tell you that financial projections are absolutely necessary for any launch process. Below are 5 of the major benefits that novice entrepreneurs will enjoy simply by spending time projecting hypothetical financial projections for their business plan.
- You will be able to show potential stakeholders that you have a levelheaded grip of reality and your expectations are practical. Possible creditors or investors are most certainly looking for realistic financial expectations in your business plan. Creating financials that are not too optimistic or too pessimistic will earn the respect of potential investors and give them confidence in what you are presenting.
- You will be able to price goods and services more accurately and competitively. Lining up costs with revenues will provide you with an idea of your Break Even Point. This knowledge will be essential when it comes down to setting up an appropriate price to charge. If you charge too little you will make an inadequate profit, or if you charge too much you will end up alienating and losing customers.
- You will be able to trim costs strategically. Once you have categorized your projected expenses you will see emerging spending habits associated with your business. Noticing excessive spending before it has occurred will force you to create innovative money saving strategies to create value with less capital. Paying attention to areas that you are overspending can improve your bottom line. For example, if you anticipate spending money on outsourcing, you might notice that this expense could be eliminated by adding the duties to some of your employees. If you considered business lunches, those might have to be transformed into coffee meetings instead. In other words, consider if each expense category is sufficiently helping your business to generate income. Depending on your answer, you may need to take preventative actions.
- You will be able to pace your growth more effectively. At the startup point you will not have any idea of when you might need to hire more employees, find suppliers on a bigger scale or extend your services to other markets. In reality, you will consider expansion when sales and profits are growing consistently for a several month period. At startup you need to be prepared for that possible expansion and be able to recognize and respond to it accordingly. Creating a cash flow statement will allow you to consider corresponding income to expenses and will not leave your business grasping for cash during a crucial point of early development.
- You might be able to reduce taxes. Often startup businesses don’t know how to take advantage of controlling their tax spending. If your projections predict that you will be making profits by the end of the year that means that you will be paying taxes. So, if you plan on spending for a company vehicle, the best time would be exactly before the end of the tax year, so you can take advantage of the tax deductions. Businesses that are sloppy about predicting their expenses are willing to miss dollar saving tax opportunities. Financial projections and following up on actual bookkeeping will help you decrease the tax spending of your business.
Lastly but probably most importantly your financial projections are a way for your business to set goals and to try to reach them. Your employees are all working towards a clearly outlined financial goal and reaching it will only provide satisfaction for all involved.